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The Poem “One Art” and the Message of Peace of Mind

"One Art" explores the idea that nothing lasts and, thus, that loss is an inevitable part of life. Loss must not destroy t he peace of mind.
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“One Art” was written by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. The poem is a villanelle, a traditional form that involves a fixed number of lines and stanzas and an intricate pattern of repetition and rhyme. 

The villanelle is a highly structured poem of five tercets followed by a quatrain, with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The poem explores loss as an inevitable part of life through this form. The speaker considers what it means to experience loss over and over again and whether it is indeed possible to “master” the experience of loss and grief. “One Art” was included in Bishop’s final collection of poetry, Geography III, which was published in 1976.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

“One Art” explores the idea that nothing lasts and, thus, that loss is an inevitable part of life. The speaker claims that with practice, people can learn to accept and even “master” the “art” of losing. The idea is beautifully explained, and it carries a message. Losing should not worry us as all have to lose finally. It is part and parcel of life and must not destroy our life’s conformity.

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